With the back-to-school rhythm finally kicking in and the extra-curricular activities gobbling up all our evenings, I thought I had everything under control. Car pools are running smoothly, homework is getting done and schedules are set.
However, last week, my inner voice started slowly nagging at me about stupid things.
Am I slacker mom because I don't get all "gussied up" to take the kids to school? (I usually just wear my pajamas and we all pray I don't have to get out of the car)
Is it wrong that I make my 6th grade triplets share a cell phone?
Can I be working more to help provide for my kids?
I am usually a very confident person, but my inner critic was driving me crazy. Why now? Where did this come from? What is it that makes a normally confident 40-something-year-old woman wake up doubting her every thought? Sometimes I can easily track back the source of my self doubt, whether it be a disagreement with friends or family, or a reminder of a past failure, or simply just having a pity party for myself. Other times, I have no clue.
This piece from the Harvard Business Review refers to something called the "impostor phenomenon," a psychological syndrome that describes frequent feelings of incompetence despite all of the evidence to the contrary. For example, you could be PTO president, recently promoted at work and volunteer 10 hours a week and still feel inadequate.
I hit up Google with the search "moms quieting your inner critic." I was surprised and delighted to see that the top hit was from another mom blogger with an article entitled "Oh Shut Up Already! How to Quiet Your Inner Critic." This fellow mom-in-arms was experiencing the same issues. She nailed it on the head when she said "...and just like kryptonite saps the strength of Superman, having a verbose and unchecked Inner Critic saps the confidence, strength and clarity of you as a Supermom and businesswoman."
So what are some ways to kick you inner critic to the curb? Below are some of the best suggestions I found for taking control of the self doubt:
- Call them out. The worst thing you can do to your inner critic is to ignore him or her. Pushing those thoughts away actually has a rebound effect, making that inner critic speak louder and more often.
- Take out the trash. You know all those doubts swirling around your head like trash talk? Purge yourself of them by writing them down. Review them. Take a good look at them. If you feel they are legitimate, do something about it. If they aren't, crumple them up and throw them away.
- Power Up. This article strongly encourages dumping words like shoulda, coulda, woulda and can't, and become more like the Little Engine That Could. Use power phrases like "I choose," "I can do this," "My best is good enough," and "Stop!" to let your inner critic know who's in charge.
- Learn from your inner critic. As the article from the Harvard Business Review advises, "you can learn from your inner critic, but be careful to not give it too much power. Find and maintain the right distance — keep it close enough to be useful, but not so close that it gets in your way."
- Don't be so hard on yourself. Unless your last name is Cullen and you glisten in the sun, remember that you’re only human and bound to fail at some things and succeed at others. Learn to forgive yourself for mistakes, then let them go. Replaying them over and over again is a waste of time and and only feeds your self doubt.